The harder you pulse, the greater the burn.
Looking good in your favorite pair of jeans isn’t the only incentive to build stronger thighs. Strengthening your adductors—the muscles in your inner thighs—will help you squat deeper to pick up heavy groceries and make climbing up a flight of stairs easier. For pregnant women, strengthening your inner thighs is also important for an smoother, er, faster delivery. Not to mention, a solid lower half will help prevent or relieve joint pain that comes with aging.
To help you get started, we asked Chelsea Streifeneder, a certified Pilates instructor and owner of Body Be Well Pilates, to share her favorite inner-thigh exercises. You can do this 10-minute inner-thigh workout at home with just a yoga mat—you don’t need any other equipment! Do 8 to 10 reps of each exercise and as you progress, shoot for 12 to 15 reps. Aim to do this inner-thigh workout two to three times a week to see real results, in addition to following a healthy diet. Ready to pulse and flex? Allow Streifeneder to walk you through the moves.
- Lie on your back with your legs lifted into tabletop position and arms pushing into the mat at your sides. Join your heels together and turn your toes out at 45-degree angles.
- With your core engaged, push your legs out long in front of you and just above the floor. The lower your legs are, the greater a challenge this will be for your abs. Keep inner thighs engaged by imagining that you are squeezing a $100 bill between your heels and don’t want to drop it. (Try this 10-minute lower-body workout for stronger glutes and legs.)
- For a harder challenge, pulse your legs by bringing them halfway in and then back out. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat and look down at your core to feel the burn.
- Lie face down with your head resting gently on the backs of your hands.
- Pull your core up and in toward your lower back, then slowly lift your legs about 2 inches. Think about how long you can extend rather than how high you can lift.
- Turn your toes out and start to open and close your legs (about 6-8 inches), kicking your heels together and going as fast as you can without straining your lower back. Keep your legs straight the entire time, and squeeze your glutes.
Lower Leg Lift
- Lie on your side, lengthen your bottom leg, and cross the top leg over it. Rest your top foot either in front or behind the bottom leg, depending which feels better for your body. Prop your head up with your hand, or rest it on your arm.
- Lift your bottom leg up, then lower it back down to hover just above the floor—but don’t let it touch! Bring it right back up for another rep, and resist it back down again. Keep your torso still and pull in your abs to support your back.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Stand up and bring your feet out a little wider than hip-distance, with hips slightly externally rotated. Place your hands on your hips, out in front of you, or behind your head with elbows out to the sides.
- Keeping your spine upright, bend your knees outward (or a ballerina-style plié) so they align over your ankles and don’t roll in.
- From your plié position, pull your core in and begin to pulse down and up without coming all the way to standing. See how low you can go without losing your form, and remember to breathe.